Patient safety is one of health care providers’ biggest concerns. A patient should never be injured during a hospitalization. In a psychiatric hospital like Highland Hospital, we take patient safety very seriously. I’ve written about patient safety any number of times over the past few years, but periodic reminders cannot hurt.
Today, I did rounds and noticed that our team continues to do an amazing job with patient safety. They are constantly monitoring our patients. They see things that sometimes others don’t. Today, I saw a staff member ask a child to step outside of the dayroom and remove a pencil that the child had slid down his sweatpants. Why is a simple pencil such a concern? A child could use a pencil to harm himself or others. We never want that. Parents sometimes want to bring children gifts that could be harmful. Things with small moving parts can be swallowed. Things with strings or cords can be used to hang oneself with. None of is are overreacting when we ask outsiders not to bring these things to our patients.
Our entire environment, down to screws in the light fixtures has been designed for safety. We have spent millions on implementing an electronic record system that is designed to increase the safety with which we provide care including medications. Sometimes technology fails, as we all know. So, our staff members continue their vigilance and check and re-check when they are providing care based on the information on the electronic medical record.
In the report released by the Institute of Medicine called “To Err is Human” in 2000, the authors say the following:
Errors can be prevented by designing systems that make it hard for people to do the wrong thing and easy for people to do the right thing. Cars are designed so that drivers cannot start them while in reverse because that prevents accidents…..In health care, building a safer system means designing processes of care to ensure that patients are safe from accidental injury.
That’s exactly what we do every day at Highland. We design systems of care to assure that we will reduce errors. But more importantly, we are vigilant, every minute, every hour, and every day. Our goal is to keep our patients safe. They deserve no less.